The Thomaston-Upson County Senior Center was notified in October that unless something changes, all congregate meals and home-delivered meals will stop on November 14 due to lack of federal funding, including the Older Americans Act funding. Senior Center Director Donna Auth had hoped the issues with the funding would be resolved once the government shutdown ended, however she has yet to receive any word on the matter.
One of the biggest concerns with the stopping of federal funding is the ending of the Meals on Wheels program, which delivers meals daily to homebound seniors. Auth noted some of the individuals are unable to cook for themselves and the meals brought through the program are the only guaranteed food they will receive that day.
“The people in the Meals on Wheels program will be affected greatly with this and many of them are unable to cook for themselves,” said Auth. “Several are on oxygen, or cannot stand for long periods of time and the meals they get are definitely needed. Sometimes our drivers are the only people these seniors see each day.”
Those who participate in the congregate meals at the Senior Center will also be affected if something does not change soon. However, the group of seniors who come daily decided they did not want to stay home alone and give up their time of fellowship with their friends and have made plans to bring in food each day themselves. According to Auth the group decided the ones who can drive will help to pick up those who rode the bus to the center and they will either pay to order in feed themselves or bring potluck lunches.
Sadly, the seniors in Upson County will not be the only ones affected by this if nothing changes by November; the senior center will also have to cut its’ kitchen staff and the Meals on Wheels drivers. That will also affect Lamar and Butts counties senior centers, as the local center does the cooking for those entities, totaling over 100 meals a day for the three counties’ Meals on Wheels programs.
In a notice provided by the Southern Crescent Area Agency on Aging, of which the senior centers of Upson, Pike, Lamar, Butts, Spalding, Meriwether, Troup, Heard, Coweta and Carroll are a part of, if funding is available before the November 14 deadline, then no services will be interrupted. However, if they are stopped and later funding becomes available, then the program will be reactivated on a needs basis.
Auth stated anyone wishing to help with the programs can contact her at the Thomaston-Upson Senior Center at 706-647-1607.